Unexpected Holiday Tunes

Whether it’s background music while you work or tunes for dancing or enjoying company, music can help set a calm mood with the push of a button. Here’s some expert advice on what makes a tune re- laxing, and a truly out-of-the-box holiday playlist for special occasions.

If you’re looking for calming music, you’ll want to pay attention to two factors, says Lyz Cooper, founder of the British Academy of Sound Therapy: tempo, the speed at which music is played; and pitch, which re- fers to the tone of the notes being played.

“When we want to relax, we will naturally tend to choose music that has a slower tempo; and when we are getting ready to go out for the evening, we will choose upbeat music to get us in the mood to party.

Pitch is also important; low pitches tend to relax, and higher pitches stimulate. However, too many low pitches can seem a bit depressing, so you need balance,” she says.
“Slow rhythms have an effect on the brain, which re- laxes us and lowers the heart rate, respiration and blood pressure,” Cooper explains.

Whether you want to create a serene holiday scene for yourself, liven up a party, or have the right music when that difficult relative comes to dinner, this playlist handpicked by Cooper sets a calm tone—and pitch.

“Stars,” 2005 remix: Brian Eno Serenade
No. 13 in G major: Mozart
“Porcelain”: Moby
“Shine On You Crazy Diamond”: Pink Floyd
“Weightless”: Marconi Union with Lyz Cooper
“Airstream”: Electra
“Watermark”: Enya